Louis Richard Garbe was the second son of Prussian immigrant Gustave Garbe (1850-1919), an ivory and tortoiseshell carver, to whom he was apprenticed. Garbe was a key contributor to the resurgence in the use of exotic materials in sculpture, including ivory, at a time when they had almost completely fallen out of fashion. Although he both practiced and taught modeling techniques, Garbe’s real affinity was for carving. His influences in this field included Chinese carvers in jade and crystal, Japanese 'netsuke' and Gothic craftsmen.
Further to his father’s training he studied at Central School of Arts and Crafts and the Royal Academy Schools, becoming an instructor in sculpture at the Central School, 1901–29, then Professor of sculpture at the Royal College of Art, 1929–46. During the 1930s worked with Doulton’s on the making of a number of pieces of ceramic sculpture. Garbe was a fellow of the RBS, began exhibiting at the RA from 1908 and was elected RA in 1936. His monumental work includes some on the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff.